This past Friday night, I attended Art for Land's Sake, an art exhibition and sale, which benefits the Valleys Planning Council, a land trust and conservation association in Northwest Baltimore. The event, held at Halcyon Farm, was lovely, full of good friends, great food, and fabulous art. I volunteered to help out at the Preview Party since I like supporting a good cause, and this gathering always proves to be a lot of fun. My post was the main entrance, collecting tickets -- the perfect place to meet and greet friends, both old and new. My true good fortune, however, was in my introduction to Bob, the man who shared my duty that evening. As I would soon discover, he would become the newest member of my Personal Learning Network or PLN. Behold the power of the network.
As Bob and I began chatting at our post, I soon discovered that he, formerly of The Baltimore Sun, is now a faculty member of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland, College Park. He is currently teaching a class in layout. Here is where my good fortune comes in. A colleague and I, both teachers at Garrison Forest School, have undertaken the start-up of a first-time-ever Lower School newspaper. While we are very excited about this new endeavor, we are equally nervous about the challenges that lay ahead...namely, what is the best way to get the stories that our students write into a publishable format. As I told Bob about our newspaper, The Livingston Ledger, I explained that we were thinking of using Adobe InDesign. Again, my good fortune -- Bob is currently teaching InDesign to his students. Had my story ended here, with some tips and pointers from Bob on the how-to's of layout and publishing, I would have been happy enough. But as I mentioned, the network is powerful. Bob asked me if I would like a copy of the instructions that he uses to teach InDesign! So today, in my email inbox, I found an email from the newest member of my network.
I can't say thank you enough to Bob for generously sharing his hard work with someone he had just met. But this is how a PLN works. It is all around you. You simply put the request out there, and you can be fairly certain someone will answer the call. Interestingly enough, for me, on Friday night, the answer preceded the call.
By the way, stayed tuned for more updates on The Livingston Ledger, as we discover the joys of writing and publishing with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders.